Coastal algal blooms in south-east Queensland
Algal blooms in estuarine and marine waters of south-east Queensland (SEQ) have been increasing in frequency and extent since the mid-1990s, particularly Hinksia sordida and Lyngbya majuscula. These blooms have posed a significant threat to water quality, biodiversity, human health and the recreational and commercial values of coastal waterways in the region.
The Department established and has chaired the Coastal Algal Bloom Reference Group (previously called the Lyngbya Reference Group and Lyngbya Steering Committee) since 2002. The group provides a forum for stakeholders from Federal, State and local governments, industry, research organisations and community groups, to advise government agencies on the management of blooms and be updated on research and planning outcomes. The group is advised by an independent scientific expert panel run by the SEQ Healthy Waterways Partnership Office.
Further information is available on:
Responding to bloom incidents in south-east Queensland
State Government contingency strategies
In south-east Queensland, the Department has developed a Contingency Strategy for Lyngbya blooms in south-east Queensland (PDF, 316K)*.
The main features of this contingency plan include:
- an early warning system to provide government and the community with regular updates of the Lyngbya presence in Moreton Bay and the potential for foreshore deposits;
- clearly defined mitigation actions that will be implemented when pre-determined criteria in bloom status are reached;
- regular communication with the local community, particularly in relation to bloom status;
- an outline of the roles and responsibilities of various agencies in the monitoring and mitigation of Lyngbya blooms in south-east Queensland.
Monitoring updates provide further information on the presence of Lyngbya blooms in south-east Queensland.
Further information and tips for responding to emerging harmful and nuisance algal blooms in estuarine and marine waters is available.
Local governments in south-east Queensland have developed localised plans for responding to Lyngbya blooms within their jurisdiction. These plans usually include:
- strategies for monitoring Lyngbya deposits on local government controlled foreshores
- mitigation actions for responding to Lyngbya washed on foreshores or into high public use areas
- communication strategies
- roles and responsibilities for different departments within the local government.
Presently the following local governments have localised response plans for Lyngbya:
- Moreton Bay Regional Council (Moreton Bay Regional Council, 2009)
- Redlands City Council (Redland City Council, 2007)
- Brisbane City Council (Brisbane City Council, 2004).
Please contact your relevant local government for further information.
Research and strategic management programs
- Addressing Hinksia sordida blooms at Noosa
- Addressing Lyngbya blooms in Moreton Bay
- Coastal Algal Bloom Action Plan
In response to Hinksia bloom events in early 2003–2005, the South-east Queensland Healthy Waterways Partnership was commissioned by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (former Noosa Shire) to undertake a two-phased study into the causes of Hinksia blooms affecting Noosa main beach and to provide management recommendations for preventing future occurrences.
Hinksia blooms were identified as a regional phenomenon affecting coastal areas from Noosa to the northern tip of Fraser Island. Therefore, reducing the incidence and severity of blooms will need to take on a regional management approach.
Further information on the results of these studies is available by contacting the South-east Queensland Healthy Waterways Partnership.
Since 2000, various research and management programs have been carried out to determine the causes and impacts of Lyngbya blooms and to identify mitigation and management options.
The programs included:
- an initial Lyngbya research program (2000–2002) which investigated possible causes of Lyngbya blooms including the ecophysiology of blooms, toxicology and molecular biology;
- development of a Lyngyba Management Strategy for Moreton Bay. This strategy was developed by a whole-of-government, whole-of-community Lyngbya Steering Committee and included the agreed actions for addressing the investigation, mitigation and catchment protection issues relevant to Lyngbya blooms in Moreton Bay coastal waters, particularly in northern Deception Bay;
- an intensive two-year Lyngbya research and management program (2005–2007) aimed at identifying the reasons for Lyngbya blooms, specifically in Deception Bay, and updating the Lyngbya Management Strategy. This was carried out with funding from local, State and Federal governments ($1.38 million);
- Lyngbya Management Strategy, which was amalgamated into the Coastal Algal Bloom Action Plan (within the SEQ Healthy Waterways Strategy 2007–2012).
The Coastal Algal Blooms Action Plan outlines a co-ordinated response to deal with existing and emerging coastal algal issues including Lyngbya in Moreton Bay. It builds on previous Lyngbya and Hinksia research programs.
The Coastal Algal Blooms Action Plan is part of the South-east Queensland Healthy Waterways Strategy 2007–2012, which is available for download on the South-east Queensland Healthy Waterways website.
As part of the $20 million funding for the SEQ Healthy Waterways Strategy 2007–2012, the Queensland Government pledged $1.6 million for implementation of high priority actions in the Coastal Algal Blooms Action Plan. These include:
- Enhanced contingency planning, monitoring and coordination between stakeholders and all levels of government of coastal algal blooms in south-east Queensland.
- Research on the impact of hazardous and nuisance algae on marine fauna, such as turtles and dugongs, and implications for management.
- Assessment of the impact of climate change on coastal algal blooms in south-east Queensland.
- Development of management tools to assist State and local governments and land managers to implement policies for minimising the release of nutrients of concern into coastal water, which will reduce the risk of Coastal Algal Blooms (CABs). This project focuses on incorporating research and scientific knowledge collected to date into practical tools and guidelines to assist industry, planners and decision makers. It involves the development of nutrient hazard maps and assessment tools and the production of technical, management and operational guidelines to support prospective applicants and decision makers.
* Requires Adobe Reader
Last updated 6 July 2011